Denver deputy fired after body-slamming man in court room
A deputy with the Denver Sheriff’s Department was fired earlier this month for an incident of “inappropriate force” where he was seen on video body-slamming a man near the security line at Denver’s courthouse last November, according to a disciplinary letter outlining his dismissal.
Deputy James Jeffery was terminated from his position on July 15 following an independent review by the Office of the Executive Director of the Department of Safety of the November 2019 incident.
On Nov. 14, the victim, only identified as “LH” in the report, tried to enter the Lindsay Flanagan Courthouse with medical marijuana, but was stopped by security, the letter says. LH was told he could not enter unless he could provide a medical marijuana card, but he refused to leave and deputies, including Jeffery responded to the area, the letter says.
Another deputy said LH “had his hand balled up in a fist” and “made a move to punch” Jeffery, according to the letter.
Another employee requested an investigation request form the next day and said that LH was “verbally aggressive” but had stopped making threats and was walking away when “Jeffery grabbed him from behind around the neck and slammed him to the ground face first,” the letter says.
When interviewed on Nov. 15, LH said he lifted his hands up so deputies wouldn’t touch him and, according to the letter, said Jeffery “picked me up, threw my feet in the air with one move.” He said he had a concussion and was experiencing dizziness and wanted to press charges, according to the letter. Medical records reviewed confirmed those injuries, the letter says.
When asked if he used the least amount of force he could have, Jeffery said “he did,” the letter says. He went on to say, “when he made that action like he was gonna punch me, I felt like that was my — that’s what I had to do.”
He later acknowledged that his technique was incorrect.
“I should have probably went lower, my technique was bad I — I will say that,” he said, according to the letter. He said his intention was to get LH on the ground and restrain him without a fight, the letter says.
Jeffery’s description of the event that LH’s balled-up fist and arm motion was an “imminent assault” is “irreconcilable with the video evidence,” according to the letter.
The letter goes on to say that Jeffery had “successfully” de-escalated the situation to the point where LH was leaving but made the decision to “jump to a takedown” which was not “reasonable.”
In addition to the inappropriate force, Jeffery also faced disciplinary action related to false or misleading statements about the incident, according to the letter.